The expression "New Turkey" has been used among intellectuals as a political concept for more than a decade. The New Turkey seemed to be conservative, introverted and unable to see anything except for its own world and seemed the opposite of the old Turkey as the symbol of new politics. There is an interesting determination of Hitler related to political concepts. A slogan or a concept is not explained in detail. The slogan is turned into "the imagination of the public;" everyone shapes this term according to his/her own acquis. As the successes and endeavors of new politics and its role in the world become evident, the New Turkey concept will have a deeper meaning.
Justice and Development Party (AK Party) governments have taken steps to make the New Turkey evident with regards to democratization, the integration of Turkish society with the world, the struggle against poverty, educational investments and vision projects that will pave the way for Turkey. These acquired endeavors have made Turkish society and intellectuals ask a question. Are these successes incidental, periodic or are they permanent, sustainable and repeatable in the future? When we consider them together with the economic crisis in the world, it becomes clear that steps taken by Turkey from democracy to economy, from education to technological development are sustainable steps. That's why Turkish people support the government substantially in each election. AK Party governments have not been able to demonstrate the outstanding performance that they have demonstrated in all fields of government in the field of culture. It could not demonstrate successes revealed in fields such as economy, development, industry, technical, et cetera in the field of cultural production and consumption.
Culture may be defined as a set of values that create a society again, give meaning to its existence, make it easier for both individual and the state to express themselves and provide the opportunity to act consciously in all actions. Turkish society has a background that it brings from the depths of history as a nation creating civilizations and arising from experiences shared partially with other cultures and nations in the empire period. Although we have drawn away from the accumulation in the old language together with the language revolution, every nation establishing an empire has a cultural policy. The basic reason why Turkish governments fail in cultural strategies is as follows. There is an incorrect bias in Turkey: Being a man of culture is a concept that belongs to the left and can only be performed by leftists. As such, men of culture who are foreign to the values of their own nation are also foreign to society. There is nothing a man of culture may offer to his nation if he is foreign to his very society. The Ministry of Culture has been assigned to leftist administrators because - in my judgment - the representation of the Ministry of Culture has not been regarded much by the governments. It is hard to understand why the leftist tradition that could not succeed in any economic and social field in terms of the administration of the country is expected to be successful in terms of culture.
People among members of the government who can't connect deeply with his/her cultural values can't exhibit a self-confident attitude in both traditional culture and new fields of culture. The more a man of culture internalizes his/her own values, the more easily s/he communicates with different cultures.
The New Turkey is a Turkey that will live together with the world and will have a substantial role in world politics. As a cultural background promotes connection and peace in a society, it increases the resistance of a society against the outer world as a whole. The government building the New Turkey is required to review cultural policies because great states do not become great states only by economic growth; this growth must be supported by cultural accumulation.
About the author
İhsan Aktaş is Chairman of the Board of GENAR Research Company. He is an academic at the Department of Communication at Istanbul Medipol University.